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Pharmacogenomics: Healthcare Practitioners

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What is the actual value of pharmacogenomics, and how will genetic testing lead to lower healthcare costs?

Pharmacogenomics has the potential to allow physicians to personalize treatment plans for their patients and make more informed decisions about patient health.  Despite the many benefits offered by pharmacogenomics, there are several concerns being raised within the healthcare industry. Among these concerns is the actual value pharmacogenomics provides patients and the likelihood that genetic testing will raise healthcare costs.  This post will examine the impact of pharmacogenomics on physicians and the patients they treat.

Does Pharmacogenomics Help Physicians?

The study of pharmacogenomics reveals how an individual’s genes influence his or her response to drugs.  According to Kate Merton, Head of Commercial Development at Navigate BioPharma, genetic information is valuable to physicians because it allows them to make a better initial decisions about treatment plans.  For instance, if a certain patient is a high metabolizer, genetic testing would alert physicians. This would allow physicians to change the dosage that the high metabolizing patient is receiving so it meets their individual needs.  This approach offers an alternative to the traditional method of treating a patient, which is to prescribe a standard dosage and then either escalate or de-escalate the drug dose depending on the patient’s response. Pharmacogenomics instead allows the physician to take information about the patient’s genetic composition and tailor treatments accordingly.

How Will Patients Benefit?

Although pharmacogenomics may not apply in all treatment decisions, it is highly important when testing for genetic abnormalities and in oncology.  When prescribing medication, it is important to ensure that genetic abnormalities are not present, which may interfere with the medication being prescribed.  This information helps rule out patients who may have adverse reactions to treatments, which may not be compatible with their genetic background.  Pharmacogenomics also proves highly important in oncology, where time is often limited and getting patients on the right drug is critical for recovery.  In these cases, genetic testing allows physicians to make better decisions regarding treatment plans for patients.

Is Pharmacogenomics Cost-Effective?

Despite the common belief that pharmacogenomics may lead to higher healthcare costs, this does not appear to be the case according to several economic studies conducted on the subject.  A recently published article by M. Verbelen in The Pharmacogenomics Journal reveals that pharmacogenomics-guided treatment is not only cost-effective, but proves dominant over alternative strategies.  The study examined economic evaluations and determined that if genetic information was freely available, as many as “75% of economic evaluations would support pharmacogenomics-guided treatment.”  This finding shows that the benefits of pharmacogenomics may outweigh the cons, particularly if the cost of healthcare remains unchanged. There may even be economic benefits as pharmacogenomics allows physicians to make better decisions when choosing pharmaceutical treatments.

As pharmacogenomics continues to be integrated into healthcare, it allows both physicians to make more informed decisions about treatment plans for their patients.  This means that pharmaceutical treatments are becoming increasingly personalized–representing a drastic departure from the standardized treatment plan in healthcare.

If you have any other questions about how to communicate with the FDA or how your past and/or current FDA communications affect you and your business goals, reach out to me on Twitter, LinkedIn, or send me a message here.

I also host a podcast called DarshanTalks, a show that discusses newsworthy FDA issues and how they apply to bringing a product to market – and keeping it there. From patient centricity in clinical trials to the government shutdown to CRISPR and bioethics to why big data is doomed to fail in healthcare, we’ve got quite the list of topics to review! Listen to the podcast on Google Podcasts or on Apple Podcasts.

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